Today, for the first time since reporting on deaths due to COVID-19 began on 6 March, we finally have the promised joint data release from the ONS and the CQC. This has been billed as a way of providing a more detailed and timely picture of the impact of COVID-19 on adult social care, using the data on deaths of people with suspected and confirmed COVID-19 that CQC collects from providers.
The data clearly highlights what we have known for some time – that deaths in care homes are continuing to rise significantly. The numbers released today show tragically that deaths in care homes have doubled in the week 17 to 24 April due to COVID-19. From 10 to 17 April, CQC were notified of 1,968 deaths. Between 10 April and 24 April, CQC were notified of 4,343 deaths. This is a rise of 2,375 in a week.
Even now this is still not real-time daily data and is not being included in the overall daily figure quoted by the government to understand the severity and trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, says:
“This data clearly shows us the importance of tracking the impact of COVID-19 beyond hospitals. It is essential we know what is happening in care homes and wider communities. Data saves lives and having access to timely, accurate data about the impact of COVID-19, both in terms of the devastating loss of life and the prevalence of COVID-19 outbreaks in care settings, means we have a much better prospect of targeting help and support to the frontline of care to defeat it.
It shows the very urgent need for a daily tracking of all COVID-19 deaths as a key priority for the Government. Every day we review the graphs on the daily briefings to understand the charting of the progress of COVID-19 in hospitals – we must now see the daily picture in care homes and communities.
The numbers revealed today make it more important than ever that we build a ‘ring of steel’ around care homes. They need the right PPE equipment, medical monitoring devices, rapid and comprehensive testing, proper funding and intensive research to safeguard the people they care for. This virus is not going away – this data shows that the ‘whatever it takes’ mantra must be applied urgently to protect the most vulnerable in social care, as we have to the NHS. We need action and we need it now.”